South Africa's Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, at the session on the Blue Economy at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 in Durban. PHOTO: WEF
Durban – South Africa has about 4,000 kilometers of coastline and if protected and properly managed the country could have about one million jobs by 2032.

This emerged at a session of the World Economic Forum on Africa taking place this week in Durban.

Overfishing and dumping, however, posed major threats to the ocean economy – not just along the South African coastline, but along the entire coast of the continent.

Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs said the continent’s blue economy would improve for the better over the next ten years, with better protection measures being implemented.

According to Molewa, the oceans economy had the potential to create around one million jobs by 2032 if it was managed properly.

Molewa was a panelist at a session on Wednesday evening titled The Blue Economy where discussions focused on how to lessen and negate destructive practices affecting the world’s oceans.

Molewa said “huge opportunities” existed and had been identified in the manufacturing and ocean transport sector.

“The fact that SA’s economy was not constructed with the focus on the shoreline did not stop us from identifying that shortfall,” Molewa said. “Loading raw material and receiving incoming goods are some of the opportunities that exist for our country.

“The Port of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Richards Bay are developed through our industrialisation programme. We are doing fish breeding on our shorelines to ensure that we don’t run the risk of certain species becoming extinct,” Molewa said on the sidelines of the session.

She added that drones, which were not expensive to operate, were being deployed to guard fishing activities.

She further said that fishing licences were determined through legislation and scientific monitoring. “We are on guard of our marine life through legislation and scientific monitoring.”

Herman Betten, session facilitator and global director: external affairs for Royal DSM, said the ocean was not managed very well in the African continent where he said more than a billion people relied on fishing for survival.

“It takes six kilogrammes of salmon to make one kilogramme of salmon. Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into our ocean every year. About 400 dead zones in the ocean already exist. The more active we become in protecting the ocean, the mercury that we find in fish will be extracted from the ocean gradually,” Betten said.

He said illegal, unreported and smuggled tuna fish was another problem area for ocean economy.

Juliette Biao, director and Africasn representative of the United Nations Environmental Programme (Unep), said she did not think that Africans had enough knowledge on oceans and that the issue of marine litter was not receiving enough attention.

“Heavy metal going into the rivers and into the sea is difficult to extract. The more toxic the waste, the more difficult it will be to extract,” she said.